GOLD by Chris Cleave (is my Girlfriend)Posted: August 15, 2012
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
I can’t remember the last time I fell for an author so hard.
I read Chris Cleave’s most recent novel GOLD over the weekend. It’s Wednesday and I’ve already plowed through his first novel INCENDIARY and am fast approaching finishing my (re)-read of his best-seller LITTLE BEE. That’s an author’s canon in the span of five days. This writing crush has gone beyond scribbling his name surrounded by a bunch of cartoon hearts over and over again in margins of my college-ruled notebook paper and hanging around his locker in dress-code violating slut clothes hoping he’ll notice me. You guys, I think I’m in loooooooove.
Let’s talk about GOLD for a quick sec and then I can get back to talking about how hot I think Cleave’s writing is for…. more than a quick sec.
GOLD is the story of 3 Olympic cyclists, word-that-rhymes-with-itch-and-also-hunt Zoe and the-Mary-Sue-of-competitive-sports Kate, constant rivals in the velodrome, unlikely and uneasy friends in the real world, and Jack, the hot-as-all-get-out cut-up who forms the third point of a shifting and unpredictable triangle. We follow these characters through their initial meeting, training as teenagers, through their twenties, and into their early thirties, the bulk of the action taking place during 2012, the last year all three are eligible for the Olympics.
I really, really, really don’t want to give too much more away because part of what makes Cleave’s writing so crush-worthy is how masterfully he feeds his readers information, it’s like an IV drip of amazing. I will say that Cleave is playing with Goliath-sized themes here. His main characters are in the peak of physical health, they are such Olympians they are practically Greek gods themselves while his two secondary characters, Zoe and Kate’s coach Tom and Kate and Jack’s daughter Zoe, are all too mortal. This is a book about the extremes of human existence, it’s ambitious stuff and Cleave handles it with intelligence, compassion, and every-few-pages-there’s-something-there’s-something-to-laugh-out-loud-about-humor. It’s a cinematic and visceral book, the relationships and plot turns and twists have at times an almost Biblical/Greek feel. That’s matched with a host of interspersing scenes that are so specific and personal, kitchen sink at its most engaging. There were a couple of scenes where exposition felt a little heavy and dialogue felt a little on the nose. Because of how much the book manages to carry on its Atlas-like shoulders, will forgive slips here and there. Forgiving little things is basically the definition of love!
This was one of my favorite reads this summer and one of my favorite sports books EVER (ART OF FIELDING isn’t looking like it’s going to meet qualifications after this. But BORN TO RUN maintains its place on the podium.)
READ IT! And then join my Reading Every Chris Cleave Book Ever in a Week Book Club. I’ll bring lemon squares to the next meeting!
WHAT KIND OF GIRLFRIEND IS SHE: An OLYMPIAN! I am so awestruck by her and so attracted to all her sexy. But she makes me feel really fat and lazy. Not on purpose. You just can’t really spend any amount of time with an Olympian and not feel like the fattest, laziest, most unproductive and worthless embarrassment to the human race there ever was all covered in fat and laziness and worthlessness and embarrassingness…. SHE’S SO SEXY, THE SEXY MAKES ALL THINGS OKAY.
MY DATE WITH “GOLD”:
She’s going to teach me how to ride a bike (I read on e-book, that’s why she’s an iPad).
I haven’t ridden a bike for real since I was a kid, and even then I only half-learned…
So this should be interesting…
Interesting can mean a lot of different things.